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WELCOME!

This site has been taken from the guidebook, Cruising the Virgin Islands, published by Fine Edge Nautical Publishing. It has been divided into the sections described below to help make navigation easy.


Exploring a Destination

Fun for everyone!

Fun for everyone!

At the top, you’ll find British Virgin Island and U.S. Virgin Island destinations in two drop-down menus.

When you click on one of the islands, you’ll find an introductory page that has general information and features about the area and a teal sidebar that lists all the destinations covered in the guidebook for that island. At the bottom of the page you’ll find articles in boxes titled “Exploration & Adventures,” if there are any available for that destination.

Once you select a destination, again you’ll find a general overview of the area, with special feature boxes and services unique to that area such as restaurants, provisions and dive companies, etc. and a gray sidebar with Services, Charts & Maps.


Services, Charts & Maps

In the gray sidebar, you’ll find out if a destination offers Services like fuel and water including local Marinas and Chandleries. Below that there is a Seamanship Level to help you determine ease of access into the harbor. Approach and Anchoring offers detailed information that includes Chart references, a general position and a list of key latitude/longitude waypoints for further identification and navigation indicated by the reference (BVxxx) or (AVxxx) that coordinate with the Navigation Tips—Information & Maps sections.

There are four sets of charts that cover this area: the U.S. Government National Image and Mapping Agency (NIMA) charts, British Admiralty Leisure Folio Charts, Imray-Iolaire charts, and a fairly new set of charts called the Carribean Yachting Charts (CYC) drawn by Nautical Publications GmbH. In our experience, the Carribean Yachting Charts (CYC) are the best, closely followed by the British Admiralty, Caribbean Leisure Folio Charts.

Sandy Cay

Gorgeous Sandy Cay—a little bit of paradise!

In general, none of the charts are completely accurate especially close to shore. Some are based on official surveys from 50–75 years ago or more and coral heads have continued to grow up to several inches per year during that time. For charter boats, the charter company may have some form of local charts on board. The extended charterer or cruiser may prefer to have their own set of charts on board although cruising in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands is primarily by compass and eye ball using cruising guides like this book as guidance. When in doubt, proceed slowly with a bow watch. The way points listed are for advisory purposes only by the authors and do not represent official government navigation information. They should be verified and used with caution.

The Seamanship Level is a rating provided by the authors to provide guidance when selecting and considering destinations. A level 1 or 2 anchorage or harbor can be handled by most captains capable of entering a harbor and tying up to a dock or mooring ball. The entrance to the harbor is straight forward with few surprises. If you are not comfortable anchoring a boat, it is easy to choose all destinations that have docks or mooring balls. Dock space is limited and expensive. Mooring balls are plentiful and require good crew coordination.

If you are comfortable setting an anchor, you will be rewarded with access to some of the most scenic places in the Virgin Islands. Anchorages with Seamanship levels 3 and 4 are more challenging and may require more experience and caution. In some cases local knowledge is advisable. The entrance may have coral heads, or be very narrow, and should be transited with care. Some charter companies prohibit anchorage in those we have rated with a Seamanship Level 4 or 5. For example, some charter companies prohibit or require prior authorization to cruise to Anegada, therefore we have designated the Setting Point anchorage as a Level 4, due to the challenges of the 12–16 mile open water crossing and approach to a reef anchorage.

The guidebook offers some additional information you might find useful, such as excerpts from the U.S. Coast Pilot. The information is interesting reading but sometimes dated and inaccurate. It presents an official point of view about an entrance or harbor and is just another point of reference for the skipper to consider.

Biras Creek

Biras Creek is home of the Fat Virgin Café—said to have some of the best hamburgers in the islands.

Most of the information in this book has been collected by Joe Russell and Mark Bunzel through on-the-water experience over years of cruising and living in the Virgin Islands. Things do change in the islands or the conditions could be different on the day you approach. Take the information as guidance and prepare your own plan for entry to a harbor or cove based on your vessel and the conditions that day.

The Navigation Tips—Information & Maps sections for each destination provide chartlets and aerial photos with recommended approaches overlayed on the image. Again, this information is for advisory purposes and the captain of every vessel will make his or her decisions based upon all available information and the conditions at hand.

The chartlet includes routes and waypoints that can be entered into a GPS. The routes also display a magnetic heading and distance to assist with navigation. Many of the distances between locations in the islands are short and can be navigated by eye. A GPS is not necessary but is interesting to determine time and distance between waypoints and anchorages. You may elect to enter specific waypoints into a GPS system or, if you have a copy of the guidebook, you may elect to enter all by referencing the waypoints table in the back of the book. A CD with all of the waypoints listed in this book for downloading to most popular GPS systems is available from your local nautical book store, marine supply store or www.fineedge.com.

The state of the buoys in the BVI can change from month to month. The BVI does not have a Coast Guard like U.S. waters. Storms or boats do rip out buoys and they may not be replaced right away. When you approach an area where the book shows buoys they may not be in the same pattern or the same position. For example, when entering a harbor, the port buoy might be there but the starboard buoy could be gone. Look at the other cues, such as the next buoys in line, references on land, or make a determination from charts and the chartlets in the book to determine the best course of action.


General Information Menu

The general information sidebar that you see on the Home Page and Secondary Menu pages offers information about Chartering and other helpful topics such as Flying to the Islands and Diving.


Secondary Menu

The secondary menus provide a variety of helpful sections. You’ll find tips on creating 7-Day, 10-Day or 14-Day Intineraries and tips for Preparation and creating a Checklist.

Restaurant

Enjoy a wide variety of dining experiences.

We include a list of Restaurants & Resorts that link to their destination pages and will do our best to keep information current.

There is an incredible variety of Events year round, some of which are featured on the destination pages or Home Page. We will do our best to keep them current. Please feel free to e-mail if there is an event you would like featured and we will see if we can incorporate it. Also please let us know if you are aware of anything that has been discontinued.

The secondary menu has a Map section that provides an overview map and description of how to use the maps on the destination pages.

In the Weather section, you’ll find links to a number of Web cams and a link to Weather.com for St. Thomas.

The Local Lore section includes a variety of articles, historical references and Caribbean lore by Joe Russell and Mark Bunzel. We will also be including experiences and stories from other cruisers so if you're a writer and have some good stories, we’d love to hear from you.


Comments

Each destination also offers a comment section. Please feel free to add a brief note about the area if there is something you would like to share.


Sharing Your Cruising Experiences

If you are interested in sending stories about your experiences cruising the Virgin Islands, please Contact Us to send it via e-mail. We will determine if it is appropriate for the site and possible use in future updates of the guidebook. Please let us know if you have a photo or two that enhances the story and we will coordinate with you about obtaining them.


Monthly Updates Option

If you sign up to become a Subscriber, we plan to send e-mail updates that include special events and promotions for visiting the islands! We will not distribute your e-mail address to any other businesses.

We hope you enjoy the site and look forward to hearing about your experiences cruising the Virgin Islands!

Just purchased your guide a few weeks back. We were made aware of your guide on a tip from a vendor at the Boston Boat Show back in Feb. Great Guide! MUCH better than the OTHER one one the market. Great charts and sailing directions. Glad we found it in time for our next trip down on 19 March. One suggestion: we liked the spiral bound on the 1st addition, lays flat when sailing.

Thanks,
Art Pennino
Concord,MA


Art,

Thanks for your kind comments. I wish we could have stayed with the spiral binding. It fell apart and we had to ship less books per box. We are still looking for a better solution here. Do you mind if I post your comments on our website?

Regards,
Mark
Fine Edge


Hi Mark: Yes, no problem posting my comments. We're heading over to Anagada for the 1st time if the weather holds. Our 1st BVI charter was in 1988, this will be our 4th BVI charter and our 16th Caribbean charter. We have sailed most of the Islands of the Eastern Caribbean. It's hard to decide which is our favorite, probably the Grenadines, Martinique and Guadeloupe. We especially like Marie Galante and The Saintes. The problem is, with all the airline cut backs, it's difficult to get Down Island in one day from Boston. Getting to Tortola is still fairly easy, we opt for going through San Juan instead of STT and the ferry.

Fair Winds!
Art Pennino


Art, Thanks! Our crossing to Anegada, 3 weeks ago today, was uneventful. The morning started out with strong winds in the anchorage at the Bitter End. We held back and decided to poke our nose out. The seas were perfect at 1-2 with a 12-15k breeze. Navigating was no problem as it looked like a freeway to Anegada with 13 boats on the horizon ahead of us. The downside was, we grabbed the last mooring ball deep in the Setting Pt anchorage. It was crowded and the 3 boats after us had to anchor. The anchorage had a 20-22k wind and I really wanted to be on a ball.

We spent two days kicked back. Visted both Big Bamboo and Cow Wreck beach. My crew preferred Cow Wreck.

Enjoy and let me know comments from your trip and send any pictures you would like posted!

Mark

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